July 5, 2022

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Four Pakistan journalists face sedition suits, probe

Four Pakistan journalists face sedition suits, probe

They are known as supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan

Amid the ongoing political chaos, the police in Pakistan have started investigations into journalists Sami Abraham, Arshad Sharif, Sabir Shakir, and Imran Riaz Khan, in a slew of sedition cases against them in cities across the country.

They are known as supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan, who on Thursday set a six-day ultimatum for a fresh election date.

Even though the journalists were granted bail recently, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) demanded that Pakistan authorities immediately cancel probing the cases.

In a statement on Wednesday, the nonprofit organisation working for global press freedom, also urged the authorities concerned to refrain from arresting and targeting journalists in retaliation for their work.

Since May 18, police across Pakistan have filed multiple first information reports (FIR), which open an investigation, against Abraham, an anchor with the BOL News, Khan, an anchor with the Express News, and Sharif and Shakir, both anchors with the ARY News. All three media outlets are privately owned.

The spate of investigations comes amid physical, legal, and online harassment of journalists following the parliament’s election of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on April 11, after ousting Khan in a no-confidence vote.

Among other offenses, the multiple FIRs all accuse the four journalists violating sections of Pakistan’s penal code pertaining to abetment of mutiny and publication of statements causing public mischief by criticizing state institutions and the army in their journalistic work and unspecified social media posts. Abetment of mutiny can carry life imprisonment and an unspecified fine, and the public mischief accusation can carry a prison sentence of seven years and an unspecified fine, according to the law

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